Ponzi Schemer Martin Sigillito Dodges 325-Year Sentence; Will Still Die in Prison

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Sigillito in his full church regalia.
More than two years after Riverfront Times first broke the story of the biggest pyramid scheme in St. Louis history, the man behind the fraud now knows his fate.

Martin Sigillito, an attorney and American Anglican bishop who bilked some 100 investors out of more than $50 million in a bogus overseas venture known as British Lending Program, will effectively spend his life in prison. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Linda Reade sentenced the 63-year-old Sigillito to 40 years in prison, and did not mince words in meting out the punishment.

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Wrote the judge in her ruling:
Sigillito's criminal conduct was calloused and calculating, causing fear and anguish to the people who trusted him. Sigillito has not taken responsibility for the economic and emotional damage that he has caused to his victims. The majority of the victims of this scheme are of an age and station in life where they will never be able to earn their way back to where they were before they got mixed up with the BLP.

It is a certainty that proceeds from the forfeiture of the assets of Sigillito and his co-conspirators will not begin to make the victims economically whole. It has become necessary for many victims to scale down their lifestyles, which had never been extravagant before they invested in the BLP. Sigillito had many years of prestige, luxury and comfort at the expense of the victims. A significant sentence is appropriate to reflect the nature and circumstances of the offenses and the seriousness of the offenses, provide just punishment to Sigillito, promote respect for the law and serve as a deterrent to Sigillito and to others who might be tempted to engage in similar conduct.
Reade concluded that although she could have imposed a longer sentence, there was really no need as Sigillito is unlikely to be out of prison before he expires of natural causes.

"To impose a term of imprisonment of the maximum of 325 years would serve no purpose other than to provide a dramatic headline," wrote the judge.

I don't know. I feel our headline made do with what we were given.


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citizen

This sentence is just.  However, the system that issued the sentence is unjust.

How can the American public think that the justice system in the United States has any sense of accurate proportional judgment, when Doug Hartmann receives 2 years for stealing 34 million dollars through a ponzi scheme, and Martin Sigillito receives 40 years for stealing 56 million dollars through a ponzi scheme.

Consider the facts: Both crimes were ponzi schemes; both had a similar number of victims. Both were the among largest real estate related scams in the state of Missouri at the time of their exposure, both involved using corrupt lawyers who abused their status and knowledge of the law to deceive clients and defame the legal system.

But the difference in sentencing outcomes is striking.

Sigillito essentially spends one day in prison for every $3,835 he stole, while Hartmann spent one day in prison for every $46, 575 dollars he stole. Sigillito ends up with a sentence 12 times harsher than Hartman when measured by dollars stolen vs time in prison.

If you measure simply on time served, Sigillito’s sentence is 20 time more harsh. 2 years vs. 40 years.

The Sigillito sentence (which is just considering the damage he has done), does do what U.S. District Judge Linda Reade at his sentencing said:

“A significant sentence is appropriate to reflect the nature and circumstances of the offenses and the seriousness of the offenses, provide just punishment to Sigillito, promote respect for the law and serve as a deterrent to Sigillito and to others who might be tempted to engage in similar conduct.”

However, when Sigillito’s sentence is set next to Hartmann’s, a different set of outcomes appears that does not “promote respect for the law and serve as a deterrent”. Because when the two cases are set side by side, it becomes glaringly evident that there are two different measures of “justice” being dispensed by the US “justice” system.

What is the difference? The prosecutors, the judges, the defense team, doing a plea deal?  These all may have had an effect and probably did.

What is the difference? Let me offer one difference for your examination - the difference between the wealth and connectedness of the victims.  Sigillito’s victims were wealthy well-connected people, “Old Money”.  Hartmann’s victims were working class people.

It seems the well connected, country-club set obtain one size of “justice”, and the less well connected get a different size of “justice”.

The American public can learn a poignant lesson from Sigillito’s sentence compared to Hartmann’s sentence. Those who can afford to pay for “justice” (in civil matters), and those who are connected to friends of the court system, get one size of “justice”  and those who are less affluent and less connected get a different serving of “justice”.

The American public rightfully sees the United States court system as comical tragic farse.

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